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New York Times Bestsellers
Week of October 17, 2021
FICTION
#1  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
The Lincoln Highway
Book Jacket   Amor Towles
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780735222359 Newly released from a work farm in 1950s Kansas, where he served 18 months for involuntary manslaughter, 18-year-old Emmett Watson hits the road with his little brother, Billy, following the death of their father and the foreclosure of their Nebraska farm. They leave to escape angry townspeople who believe Emmett got off easy, having caused the fatal fall of a taunting local boy by punching him in the nose. The whip-smart Billy, who exhibits OCD–like symptoms, convinces Emmett to drive them to San Francisco to reunite with their mother, who left town eight years ago. He insists she's there, based on postcards she sent before completely disappearing from their lives. But when Emmett's prized red Studebaker is "borrowed" by two rambunctious, New York–bound escapees from the juvie facility he just left, Emmett takes after them via freight train with Billy in tow. Billy befriends a Black veteran named Ulysses who's been riding the rails nonstop since returning home from World War II to find his wife and baby boy gone. A modern picaresque with a host of characters, competing points of view, wandering narratives, and teasing chapter endings, Towles' third novel is even more entertaining than his much-acclaimed A Gentleman in Moscow (2016). You can quibble with one or two plot turns, but there's no resisting moments such as Billy's encounter, high up in the Empire State Building in the middle of the night, with professor Abacus Abernathe, whose Compendium of Heroes, Adventurers, and Other Intrepid Travelers he's read 24 times. A remarkable blend of sweetness and doom, Towles' novel is packed with revelations about the American myth, the art of storytelling, and the unrelenting pull of history. An exhilarating ride through Americana. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780735222359 Massive but light on its feet, this playfully thought-provoking novel from Towles (A Gentleman in Moscow, 2016) follows a young man newly released from a juvenile work camp through 10 eventful days in 1954. Convicted of accidentally killing a classmate who was taunting him, 18-year-old Emmett Watson has been released a few months early because of his father’s death, and is transported home to Nebraska by the camp’s warden, who unknowingly brings along two work-camp stowaways in the trunk of his car. Just as Emmett is about to head west along the transcontinental Lincoln Highway with his solemn eight-year-old brother, Billy, stowaways Duchess and Woolly take off toward New York with Emmett’s prized baby-blue Studebaker, in which Emmett has hidden all the money he has in the world. Emmett and Billy hop a boxcar in pursuit, in a convoluted chase that involves a vagabond named Ulysses, Emmett’s neighbor Sally, a circus, the author of Billy’s favorite book, and an Adirondack hunting lodge. Towles, paying more than a passing nod to Huckleberry Finn, juggles the pieces of his plot deftly, shifting from voice to voice, skirting sentimentality and quirkiness with a touch of wistful regret, and leading up to an ending that is bound to provoke discussion. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The millions of readers Towles reached with the mega-selling A Gentleman in Moscow will be thrilled to see something new from the author.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780735222359 In June 1954, when 18-year-old Emmett Watson is dropped back home by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he has just served 15 months for involuntary manslaughter, he expects simply to grab his little brother and skedaddle to California. His mother is long gone, his father recently dead, and the farm foreclosed. Then he spots two friends from the farm who surreptitiously hitched a ride on the warden's truck and plan to steer him toward New York instead. Clearly, the author of the New York Times best sellers Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow aims never to write the same book twice.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Newly released from a work farm in 1950s Kansas, where he served 18 months for involuntary manslaughter, 18-year-old Emmett Watson hits the road with his little brother, Billy, following the death of their father and the foreclosure of their Nebraska farm.They leave to escape angry townspeople who believe Emmett got off easy, having caused the fatal fall of a taunting local boy by punching him in the nose. The whip-smart Billy, who exhibits OCDlike symptoms, convinces Emmett to drive them to San Francisco to reunite with their mother, who left town eight years ago. He insists she's there, based on postcards she sent before completely disappearing from their lives. But when Emmett's prized red Studebaker is "borrowed" by two rambunctious, New Yorkbound escapees from the juvie facility he just left, Emmett takes after them via freight train with Billy in tow. Billy befriends a Black veteran named Ulysses who's been riding the rails nonstop since returning home from World War II to find his wife and baby boy gone. A modern picaresque with a host of characters, competing points of view, wandering narratives, and teasing chapter endings, Towles' third novel is even more entertaining than his much-acclaimed A Gentleman in Moscow (2016). You can quibble with one or two plot turns, but there's no resisting moments such as Billy's encounter, high up in the Empire State Building in the middle of the night, with professor Abacus Abernathe, whose Compendium of Heroes, Adventurers, and Other Intrepid Travelers he's read 24 times. A remarkable blend of sweetness and doom, Towles' novel is packed with revelations about the American myth, the art of storytelling, and the unrelenting pull of history.An exhilarating ride through Americana. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780735222359 Towles’s magnificent comic road novel (after A Gentleman in Moscow) follows the rowdy escapades of four boys in the 1950s and doubles as an old-fashioned narrative about farms, families, and accidental friendships. In June 1954, 18-year-old Emmett Watson returns to his childhood farm in Morgen, Neb., from a juvenile detention camp. Emmett has been released early from his sentencing for fighting because his father has died and his homestead has been foreclosed. His precocious eight-year-old brother, Billy, greets him, anxious to light out for San Francisco in hopes of finding their mother, who abandoned them. Plans immediately go awry when two escaped inmates from Emmett’s camp, Duchess and Woolly, appear in the Watsons’ barn. Woolly says his grandfather has stashed $150,000 in the family’s Adirondack Mountains cabin, which he offers to split evenly between the three older boys. But Duchess and Woolly take off with Emmett’s Studebaker, leaving the brothers in pursuit as boxcar boys. On the long and winding railway journey, the brothers encounter characters like the scabrous Pastor John and an endearing WWII vet named Ulysses, and Billy’s constant companion, a book titled Professor Abacus Abernathe’s Compendium of Heroes, Adventures, and Other Intrepid Travelers, provides parallel story lines of epic events and heroic adventures. Woolly has a mind for stories, too, comparing his monotonous time in detention to that of Edmond Dantès in The Count of Monte Cristo and hoping eventually to experience a “one-of-a-kind kind of day.” Towles is a supreme storyteller, and this one-of-a-kind kind of novel isn’t to be missed. (Oct.)Correction: An earlier version of this review misstated the name of the Ulysses character.
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#2  (Last Week: 1 • Weeks on List: 2)  
The Wish
Book Jacket   Nicholas Sparks
 
#3  (Last Week: 2 • Weeks on List: 2)  
Cloud Cuckoo Land
 Anthony Doerr
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781982168438 Pulitzer winner Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See) returns with a deeply affecting epic of a long-lost book from ancient Greece. In the mid-22nd century, Konstance, 14, copies an English translation of Cloud Cuckoo Land by Antonius Diogenes with her food printer’s Nourish powder while aboard the Argos, an ark-like spaceship destined for a habitable planet. She found the book in the Argos’s library, and was already familiar with Diogenes’s story of a shepherd named Aethon and his search for a book that told of all the world’s unknown lands, because her father told it to her while they tended the Argos’s farm. Her father’s connection to the Diogenes book is gradually revealed, but first Doerr takes the reader farther back in time. In chapters set in and around Constantinople leading up to the 1453 siege, two 13-year-old children, Anna and Omeir, converge while fleeing the city, and Omeir helps Anna protect a codex of Cloud Cuckoo Land she discovered in a monastery. Then, in 2020 Lakeport, Idaho, translator Zeno Ninis collaborates with a group of young children on a stage production of Cloud Cuckoo Land at the library, where a teenage ecoterrorist has planted a bomb meant to target the neighboring real estate office. Doerr seamlessly shuffles each of these narratives in vignettes that keep the action in full flow and the reader turning the pages. The descriptions of Constantinople, Idaho, and the Argos are each distinct and fully realized, and the protagonists of each are united by a determination to survive and a hunger for stories, which in Doerr’s universe provide the greatest nourishment. This is a marvel. (Sept.)
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781982168438 Doerr's first book since his Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See, and even grander in conception and delivery, takes its name from an imagined realm referenced in Aristophanes's play The Birds. In present-day Idaho, Korean War veteran Zeno directs five energetic fifth graders in the production of a play called Cloud Cuckoo Land, which he reconstructed from an ancient Greek novel that he'd translated, even as activist teenager Seymour plans an attack centered on the public library where they rehearse. The play is connected to a young orphan named Anna dwelling in Constantinople as it falls to the Ottomans; a Balkans village boy named Omeir who supports the sultan's attack with his team of oxen; and Konstance, who decades in the future travels on an interstellar spacecraft headed for exoplanet Beta Oph2. Decidedly outsiders and mostly young people (even Zeno's plot is partly backstory of his difficult early years), these characters are deftly maneuvered by the capable Doerr. What results is a glorious golden mesh of stories that limns the transformative power of literature and our need both to dream big and to arrive back home in a world that will eventually flow on without us. VERDICT Highly recommended.—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781982168438 Doerr, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction for All the Light We Cannot See (2014), returns with this masterful novel that spans centuries as it brilliantly examines the lives of five young people. Though seemingly disparate, their lives prove to have in common the mysterious presence of a comic novel from classical antiquity telling of a simpleminded shepherd, Aethon, who embarks on a quest to find Cloud Cuckoo Land, a fabled city in the clouds. As for the five children, who all come of age over the course of the novel, they are Anna and Omeir, who live in the fifteenth century during the siege of Constantinople; Zeno and Seymour, both outsiders, who live in Lakeport, Idaho, in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; and Konstance, who lives aboard an interstellar spaceship sometime in the distant future. Doerr demonstrates a singular gift for bringing these complex, fully realized characters to empathetic life in this brilliantly imagined story, which moves backward and forward in time. Interspersed among the five children’s evolving stories is the saga of Aethon’s quest. One of the joys of reading Cloud Cuckoo Land is discovering the threads that link the five characters’ lives, which ultimately cohere in ways that are simply unforgettable, as is this amazing gift of a novel.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Doerr's many ardent fans cannot wait to immerse themselves in his newest imaginative tale.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781982168438 Doerr, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction for All the Light We Cannot See (2014), returns with this masterful novel that spans centuries as it brilliantly examines the lives of five young people. Though seemingly disparate, their lives prove to have in common the mysterious presence of a comic novel from classical antiquity telling of a simpleminded shepherd, Aethon, who embarks on a quest to find Cloud Cuckoo Land, a fabled city in the clouds. As for the five children, who all come of age over the course of the novel, they are Anna and Omeir, who live in the fifteenth century during the siege of Constantinople; Zeno and Seymour, both outsiders, who live in Lakeport, Idaho, in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; and Konstance, who lives aboard an interstellar spaceship sometime in the distant future. Doerr demonstrates a singular gift for bringing these complex, fully realized characters to empathetic life in this brilliantly imagined story, which moves backward and forward in time. Interspersed among the five children’s evolving stories is the saga of Aethon’s quest. One of the joys of reading Cloud Cuckoo Land is discovering the threads that link the five characters’ lives, which ultimately cohere in ways that are simply unforgettable, as is this amazing gift of a novel.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Doerr's many ardent fans cannot wait to immerse themselves in his newest imaginative tale.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. An ancient Greek manuscript connects humanity's past, present, and future.Stranger, whoever you are, open this to learn what will amaze you wrote Antonius Diogenes at the end of the first century C.E.and millennia later, Pulitzer Prize winner Doerr is his fitting heir. Around Diogenes' manuscript, "Cloud Cuckoo Land"the author did exist, but the text is inventedDoerr builds a community of readers and nature lovers that transcends the boundaries of time and space. The protagonist of the original story is Aethon, a shepherd whose dream of escaping to a paradise in the sky leads to a wild series of adventures in the bodies of beast, fish, and fowl. Aethon's story is first found by Anna in 15th-century Constantinople; though a failure as an apprentice seamstress, she's learned ancient Greek from an elderly scholar. Omeir, a country boy of the same period, is rejected by the world for his cleft lipbut forms the deepest of connections with his beautiful oxen, Moonlight and Tree. In the 1950s, Zeno Ninis, a troubled exGI in Lakeport, Idaho, finds peace in working on a translation of Diogenes' recently recovered manuscript. In 2020, 86-year-old Zeno helps a group of youngsters put the story on as a play at the Lakeport Public Libraryunaware that an eco-terrorist is planting a bomb in the building during dress rehearsal. (This happens in the first pages of the book and continues ticking away throughout.) On a spaceship called the Argos bound for Beta Oph2 in Mission Year 65, a teenage girl named Konstance is sequestered in a sealed room with a computer named Sybil. How could she possibly encounter Zeno's translation? This is just one of the many narrative miracles worked by the author as he brings a first-century story to its conclusion in 2146.As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9781982168438 An ancient Greek manuscript connects humanity's past, present, and future. “Stranger, whoever you are, open this to learn what will amaze you” wrote Antonius Diogenes at the end of the first century C.E.—and millennia later, Pulitzer Prize winner Doerr is his fitting heir. Around Diogenes' manuscript, "Cloud Cuckoo Land"—the author did exist, but the text is invented—Doerr builds a community of readers and nature lovers that transcends the boundaries of time and space. The protagonist of the original story is Aethon, a shepherd whose dream of escaping to a paradise in the sky leads to a wild series of adventures in the bodies of beast, fish, and fowl. Aethon's story is first found by Anna in 15th-century Constantinople; though a failure as an apprentice seamstress, she's learned ancient Greek from an elderly scholar. Omeir, a country boy of the same period, is rejected by the world for his cleft lip—but forms the deepest of connections with his beautiful oxen, Moonlight and Tree. In the 1950s, Zeno Ninis, a troubled ex–GI in Lakeport, Idaho, finds peace in working on a translation of Diogenes' recently recovered manuscript. In 2020, 86-year-old Zeno helps a group of youngsters put the story on as a play at the Lakeport Public Library—unaware that an eco-terrorist is planting a bomb in the building during dress rehearsal. (This happens in the first pages of the book and continues ticking away throughout.) On a spaceship called the Argos bound for Beta Oph2 in Mission Year 65, a teenage girl named Konstance is sequestered in a sealed room with a computer named Sybil. How could she possibly encounter Zeno's translation? This is just one of the many narrative miracles worked by the author as he brings a first-century story to its conclusion in 2146. As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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  Book Jacket
#4  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
Crossroads
 Jonathan Franzen
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780374181178 This first novel in an ambitious trilogy tracks a suburban Chicago family in a time of personal and societal turmoil. It says a lot that, at almost 600 pages, Franzen’s latest novel, set amid the waning years of the Vietnam War, leaves you wanting more. That it does so is also very good news: It’s the first in what promises to be a sprawling trilogy, continuing to the present day, which the author has titled A Key to All Mythologies in what is presumably a wink at its far-from-modest ambitions—yes, à la Middlemarch. That reference is classic Franzen, who imbues his books with big ideas, in this case about responsibility to family, self, God, country, and one’s fellow man, among other matters, all the while digging deep into his characters’ emotions, experiences, desires, and doubts in a way that will please readers seeking to connect to books heart-first. Here, the story follows two generations of the Hildebrandt family, headed by Russ, the associate pastor of a church in the fictional town of New Prospect, Illinois, who, when we first meet him in the lead-up to Christmas 1971, is nursing a crush on a recently widowed parishioner and a grudge against the groovily charismatic leader of the church’s popular youth group, Crossroads, in which three of Russ’ four children are variously involved. Russ’ wife, Marion, who has gained weight over the years and lost her pre-maternal intensity and with it her husband’s sexual interest, is nursing a few secret preoccupations of her own, as are the couple’s three oldest children, Clem, Becky, and Perry. Each of the five characters, among whose perspectives Franzen adroitly toggles, is struggling with matters of morality and integrity, privilege and purpose, driven in part by the dueling desires for independence and connection. Their internal battles—to fight in an unjust war or unjustly let others fight in your stead, to fight their way out of a marriage or fight to stay in it, to fight for sanity or surrender to madness, to fight to define themselves and determine their paths or to cede that control to others, to name a few—are set against the backdrop of an era in which “love” is everywhere but empathy is in short supply, where hugs are liberally dispensed but real connection’s harder to come by. Franzen’s intensely absorbing novel is amusing, excruciating, and at times unexpectedly uplifting—in a word, exquisite. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780374181178 A small Midwestern town during the height of the Vietnam era is the setting for Franzen’s masterful, Tolstoyan saga of an unhappy family. Members of the dysfunctional Hildebrandt clan are deeply flawed, insecure, cringe-inducingly self-destructive, and, in Franzen’s psychologically astute rendering, entirely authentic and human. Russ, the patriarch, is a woefully uncool associate pastor at a small-town church, embarrassed by his dowdy wife, Marion, as he lusts after a newly arrived, sexy young widow. Marion, meanwhile, still holds onto the inspiration for a youthful indiscretion that led to an emotional breakdown. Neither pays much attention to their children. Idealistic eldest son Clem dropped out of college to fight in Vietnam and follow his conscience. Daughter Becky draws everyone into her orbit but feels insubstantial compared to brilliant younger brother Perry, who turns to pharmaceuticals to stem his raging inner storm. Franzen adroitly portrays eternal generational conflicts as early idealism gives way to resigned reality and dreams fade into dull acceptance. This masterpiece of social realism vividly captures each character’s internal conflicts as a response to and a reflection of societal expectations, while Franzen expertly explores the fissions of domestic life, mining the rich mineral beneath the sediments of familial discord. In this first volume of a promised trilogy, Franzen is in rarified peak form. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Big news: not only has Franzen, master of substantial fiction, delivered his first new novel since Purity (2015), he is also launching a major literary trilogy.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780374181178 Written between 1960 and 1990, John Updike's "Rabbit" series reflected on the fluidity of U.S. culture and the puncturing of American exceptionalism. Similarly, Franzen introduces the Hildebrandts, a Chicago family struggling to navigate cultural revolution and the Vietnam War, in the first volume of a trilogy that will trace generations of this family up to the 21st century. Though the story centers on Russ, a depressed assistant pastor dwelling on his perceived humiliation by a colleague, the narrative constellates among his wife Marion, burdened by traumatic past, and their three children: college-age Clem, popular high schooler Becky, and brilliant but troubled Perry. Each member of the family struggles with a nagging sense of emptiness and searches for an authentic sense of self through adultery, drugs, religion, or war. As in The Corrections, Franzen pens complex, densely layered characters with backstories that require the narrative to jump backward and forward in time, with America's heartland functioning as a stage upon which the tension between enduring values and societal change is enacted. VERDICT Much like Updike, Franzen is keenly aware that human struggle is defined by understanding and acceptance and that it is generational, ideas he admirably captures here.—Joshua Finnell, Colgate Univ., Hamilton, NY
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780374181178 Franzen (Purity) returns with a sweeping and masterly examination of the shifting culture of early 1970s America, the first in a trilogy. The action is centered on the small Illinois town of New Prospect, where the each of the Hildebrandts is experiencing a sea change. The father, Russ, is an associate minister at First Reformed Church and has developed an illicit attraction to a new parishioner, the widow Frances Cottrell, whose zest for life makes Russ feel a renewed sense of his “edge.” Russ is also embroiled in a yearslong feud with Rick Ambrose, who runs the church’s youth organization, Crossroads. Clem, Russ’s oldest son, is at college and having a sexual awakening with his girlfriend, Sharon, who pleads with him not to drop out and lose his deferment (“I’m going to do whatever they want me to do, which probably means Vietnam,” he says, referencing his low lottery number). Becky, Clem’s younger sister, inherits a large sum of money from an aunt and isn’t sure if she should share it with her brothers, especially Perry, the youngest, who is brilliant but cold and self-medicates with weed and ’ludes. All of the characters’ sections are convincingly rendered, and perhaps best of all are those narrated by Russ’s wife, Marion, who had a psychotic breakdown 30 years earlier that she is just starting to come to terms with. As complications stack up for the Hildebrandts, they each confront temptation and epiphany, failure and love. Throughout, Franzen exhibits his remarkable ability to build suspense through fraught interpersonal dynamics. It’s irresistible. Agent: Susan Golomb, Writers House. (Oct.)
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. This first novel in an ambitious trilogy tracks a suburban Chicago family in a time of personal and societal turmoil.It says a lot that, at almost 600 pages, Franzens latest novel, set amid the waning years of the Vietnam War, leaves you wanting more. That it does so is also very good news: Its the first in what promises to be a sprawling trilogy, continuing to the present day, which the author has titled A Key to All Mythologies in what is presumably a wink at its far-from-modest ambitionsyes, la Middlemarch. That reference is classic Franzen, who imbues his books with big ideas, in this case about responsibility to family, self, God, country, and ones fellow man, among other matters, all the while digging deep into his characters emotions, experiences, desires, and doubts in a way that will please readers seeking to connect to books heart-first. Here, the story follows two generations of the Hildebrandt family, headed by Russ, the associate pastor of a church in the fictional town of New Prospect, Illinois, who, when we first meet him in the lead-up to Christmas 1971, is nursing a crush on a recently widowed parishioner and a grudge against the groovily charismatic leader of the churchs popular youth group, Crossroads, in which three of Russ four children are variously involved. Russ wife, Marion, who has gained weight over the years and lost her pre-maternal intensity and with it her husbands sexual interest, is nursing a few secret preoccupations of her own, as are the couples three oldest children, Clem, Becky, and Perry. Each of the five characters, among whose perspectives Franzen adroitly toggles, is struggling with matters of morality and integrity, privilege and purpose, driven in part by the dueling desires for independence and connection. Their internal battlesto fight in an unjust war or unjustly let others fight in your stead, to fight their way out of a marriage or fight to stay in it, to fight for sanity or surrender to madness, to fight to define themselves and determine their paths or to cede that control to others, to name a feware set against the backdrop of an era in which love is everywhere but empathy is in short supply, where hugs are liberally dispensed but real connections harder to come by. Franzens intensely absorbing novel is amusing, excruciating, and at times unexpectedly upliftingin a word, exquisite. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780374181178 A small Midwestern town during the height of the Vietnam era is the setting for Franzen’s masterful, Tolstoyan saga of an unhappy family. Members of the dysfunctional Hildebrandt clan are deeply flawed, insecure, cringe-inducingly self-destructive, and, in Franzen’s psychologically astute rendering, entirely authentic and human. Russ, the patriarch, is a woefully uncool associate pastor at a small-town church, embarrassed by his dowdy wife, Marion, as he lusts after a newly arrived, sexy young widow. Marion, meanwhile, still holds onto the inspiration for a youthful indiscretion that led to an emotional breakdown. Neither pays much attention to their children. Idealistic eldest son Clem dropped out of college to fight in Vietnam and follow his conscience. Daughter Becky draws everyone into her orbit but feels insubstantial compared to brilliant younger brother Perry, who turns to pharmaceuticals to stem his raging inner storm. Franzen adroitly portrays eternal generational conflicts as early idealism gives way to resigned reality and dreams fade into dull acceptance. This masterpiece of social realism vividly captures each character’s internal conflicts as a response to and a reflection of societal expectations, while Franzen expertly explores the fissions of domestic life, mining the rich mineral beneath the sediments of familial discord. In this first volume of a promised trilogy, Franzen is in rarified peak form. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Big news: not only has Franzen, master of substantial fiction, delivered his first new novel since Purity (2015), he is also launching a major literary trilogy.
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  Book Jacket
 
#5  (Last Week: 3 • Weeks on List: 4)  
Apples Never Fall
Book Jacket   Liane Moriarty
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9781250220257 Australian novelist Moriarty combines domestic realism and noirish mystery in this story about the events surrounding a 69-year-old Sydney woman’s disappearance. Joy and Stan Delaney met as champion tennis players more than 50 years ago and ran a well-regarded tennis academy until their recent retirement. Their long, complicated marriage has been filled with perhaps as much passion for the game of tennis as for each other or their children. When Joy disappears on Feb. 14, 2020 (note the date), the last text she sends to her now-grown kids—bohemian Amy, passive Logan, flashy Troy, and migraine-suffering Brooke—is too garbled by autocorrect to decipher and stubborn Stan refuses to accept that there might be a problem. But days pass and Joy remains missing and uncharacteristically silent. As worrisome details come to light, the police become involved. The structure follows the pattern of Big Little Lies (2014) by setting up a mystery and then jumping months into the past to unravel it. Here, Moriarty returns to the day a stranger named Savannah turned up bleeding on the Delaneys’ doorstep and Joy welcomed her to stay for an extended visit. Who is Savannah? Whether she’s innocent, scamming, or something else remains unclear on many levels. Moriarty is a master of ambiguity and also of the small, telling detail like a tossed tennis racket or the repeated appearance of apple crumble. Starting with the abandoned bike that's found by a passing motorist on the first page, the evidence that accumulates around what happened to Joy constantly challenges the reader both to notice which minor details (and characters) matter and to distinguish between red herrings and buried clues. The ultimate reveal is satisfying, if troubling. But Moriarty’s main focus, which she approaches from countless familiar and unexpected angles, is the mystery of family and what it means to be a parent, child, or sibling in the Delaney family—or in any family, for that matter. Funny, sad, astute, occasionally creepy, and slyly irresistible. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781250220257 The Delaneys are a nice family. Stan and Joy sold their tennis school and retired, and they have good relationships with their adult children, Amy, Troy, Logan, and Brooke. But one Valentine's Day, Joy goes missing. The narrative flashes between the investigation into her disappearance and the previous September, when Savannah, a young victim of domestic abuse, shows up on the Delaneys' doorstep. Though Savannah cooks and cleans, the Delaney children are suspicious of how comfortable she is in their parents' home. Meanwhile, as evidence mounts against Stan, cracks in their lives start to show. Logan was dumped, and Brooke is separated and divorced. Troy is facing a dilemma with his ex-wife. Throughout the novel, there is tennis. Stan was a patient coach but less so with his own gifted children. Joy felt unappreciated as both a tennis player and as the glue that held the family together. Moriarty is at her best in the suburbs, and here the alternating points of view give a full picture and a gentle skewering of the pain points of suburban living. As the two time lines converge, and a happy ending is reached, no clue is left abandoned, not even in the chilling final chapter.HIGH DEMAND BACKSTORY: Moriarty is a perennial bestseller, and her previous books have received prestigious TV adaptations, so expect lots of well-deserved interest.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781250220257 The Delaneys are a nice family. Stan and Joy sold their tennis school and retired, and they have good relationships with their adult children, Amy, Troy, Logan, and Brooke. But one Valentine's Day, Joy goes missing. The narrative flashes between the investigation into her disappearance and the previous September, when Savannah, a young victim of domestic abuse, shows up on the Delaneys' doorstep. Though Savannah cooks and cleans, the Delaney children are suspicious of how comfortable she is in their parents' home. Meanwhile, as evidence mounts against Stan, cracks in their lives start to show. Logan was dumped, and Brooke is separated and divorced. Troy is facing a dilemma with his ex-wife. Throughout the novel, there is tennis. Stan was a patient coach but less so with his own gifted children. Joy felt unappreciated as both a tennis player and as the glue that held the family together. Moriarty is at her best in the suburbs, and here the alternating points of view give a full picture and a gentle skewering of the pain points of suburban living. As the two time lines converge, and a happy ending is reached, no clue is left abandoned, not even in the chilling final chapter.HIGH DEMAND BACKSTORY: Moriarty is a perennial bestseller, and her previous books have received prestigious TV adaptations, so expect lots of well-deserved interest.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781250220257 Set in Sydney, Australia, this engrossing psychological thriller from bestseller Moriarty (Nine Perfect Strangers) centers on Joy and Stan Delaney, who have been married for 50 years and are discontented in their retirement. Joy often fantasizes about their four grown children giving them grandchildren to help them out of their rut. One night, a young woman appears at the Delaneys’ door. Introducing herself as Savannah, she claims she’s a victim of domestic abuse and has the injuries to show for it. The couple welcome Savannah into their home, where she soon becomes a permanent guest. Eventually, the Delaney children notice oddities in Savannah’s behavior and suggest it may be time for her to leave. Tension builds between Joy and Stan, and suddenly she vanishes. The police and two of the Delaney children believe Stan is responsible for her disappearance as he won’t talk about it. Moriarty expertly delves into the innermost thoughts of each of the children, exposing secrets unbeknownst to each other; artfully balances the present-day plot with revealing backstory; and offers several different possibilities for what happened to Joy. Only the overlong conclusion disappoints. Moriarty’s superb storytelling continues to shine. (Sept.)
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#6  (Last Week: 4 • Weeks on List: 4)  
Harlem Shuffle
Book Jacket   Colson Whitehead
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780385545136 Two-time Pulitzer winner Whitehead (The Nickel Boys) returns with a sizzling heist novel set in civil rights–era Harlem. It’s 1959 and Ray Carney has built an “unlikely kingdom” selling used furniture. A husband, a father, and the son of a man who once worked as muscle for a local crime boss, Carney is “only slightly bent when it to being crooked.” But when his cousin Freddie—whose stolen goods Carney occasionally fences through his furniture store—decides to rob the historic Hotel Theresa, a lethal cast of underworld figures enter Carney’s life, among them the mobster Chink Montague, “known for his facility with a straight razor”; WWII veteran Pepper; and the murderous, purple-suited Miami Joe, Whitehead’s answer to No Country for Old Men’s Anton Chigurh. These and other characters force Carney to decide just how bent he wants to be. It’s a superlative story, but the most impressive achievement is Whitehead’s loving depiction of a Harlem 60 years gone—“that rustling, keening thing of people and concrete”—which lands as detailed and vivid as Joyce’s Dublin. Don’t be surprised if this one wins Whitehead another major award. Agent: Nicole Aragi, Aragi, Inc. (Sept.)
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780385545136 Whitehead adds another genre to an ever-diversifying portfolio with his first crime novel, and it's a corker. Ray Carney owns a furniture store in Harlem. When the novel begins in 1959, he's selling mostly used furniture, struggling to escape the legacy of his criminal father. "Living taught you," Ray believes, "that you didn't have to live the way you'd been taught." Almost. Ray's ne'er-do-well cousin, Freddie, who's been luring Ray into hot water since childhood ("I didn't mean to get you in trouble," is Freddie's constant refrain) regularly brings Ray the odd piece of jewelry, provenance unknown, which Ray peddles to a dealer downtown, building a stake to invest in his business. "There was a natural flow of goods in and out and through people's lives . . . a churn of property, and Ray facilitated that churn." It works until Freddie suggests Ray as a fence for a jewel heist at the Hotel Theresa ("the Waldorf of Harlem"), and suddenly the churn produces a potentially disastrous backwash. Following Ray as his business grows and he delicately balances the crooked and straight sides of his life, Whitehead delivers a portrait of Harlem in the early ’60s, culminating with the Harlem Riot of 1964, that is brushed with lovingly etched detail and features a wonderful panoply of characters who spring to full-bodied life, blending joy, humor, and tragedy. A triumph on every level.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Twice a Pulitzer winner, Whitehead seems destined for more honors with his first crime novel.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780385545136 Two-time Pulitzer winner Whitehead (The Underground Railroad; The Nickel Boys) has fun and shows off his literary dexterity with this rollicking crime novel set in 1960s Harlem. Ray Carney, a self-made Black man, sells new and used furniture at affordable prices (with generous payment plans) in a store that bears his name on historic 125th Street. He's caught between his haughty in-laws who are unhappy that their daughter lives in a dingy apartment near the train, and his wayward cousin Freddie, the devil on Ray's shoulder since they were kids. The "slightly bent" storekeeper sometimes fences stolen jewelry too. Ray gets talked into a lucrative heist with seedy coconspirators, which leads to more dangerous capers, until he is forced to balance his loyalty to his business and his family with his loyalty to Freddie. As a writer, Whitehead is in full command, seamlessly populating his story with lovingly recounted period details. The stakes here aren't as high, or the subject matter as heavy, as in his two recent masterworks, but Whitehead's mystery explores the intersections of Black class mobility, civil unrest, and New York City in an entertaining way. VERDICT Another can't-miss from the versatile Whitehead, for readers who loved James McBride's Deacon King Kong.—Michael Pucci, South Orange P.L., NJ
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780385545136 Whitehead adds another genre to an ever-diversifying portfolio with his first crime novel, and it's a corker. Ray Carney owns a furniture store in Harlem. When the novel begins in 1959, he's selling mostly used furniture, struggling to escape the legacy of his criminal father. "Living taught you," Ray believes, "that you didn't have to live the way you'd been taught." Almost. Ray's ne'er-do-well cousin, Freddie, who's been luring Ray into hot water since childhood ("I didn't mean to get you in trouble," is Freddie's constant refrain) regularly brings Ray the odd piece of jewelry, provenance unknown, which Ray peddles to a dealer downtown, building a stake to invest in his business. "There was a natural flow of goods in and out and through people's lives . . . a churn of property, and Ray facilitated that churn." It works until Freddie suggests Ray as a fence for a jewel heist at the Hotel Theresa ("the Waldorf of Harlem"), and suddenly the churn produces a potentially disastrous backwash. Following Ray as his business grows and he delicately balances the crooked and straight sides of his life, Whitehead delivers a portrait of Harlem in the early ’60s, culminating with the Harlem Riot of 1964, that is brushed with lovingly etched detail and features a wonderful panoply of characters who spring to full-bodied life, blending joy, humor, and tragedy. A triumph on every level.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Twice a Pulitzer winner, Whitehead seems destined for more honors with his first crime novel.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780385545136 After winning back-to-back Pulitzer Prizes for his previous two books, Whitehead lets fly with a typically crafty change-up: a crime novel set in mid-20th-century Harlem. The twin triumphs of The Underground Railroad (2016) and The Nickel Boys (2019) may have led Whitehead’s fans to believe he would lean even harder on social justice themes in his next novel. But by now, it should be clear that this most eclectic of contemporary masters never repeats himself, and his new novel is as audacious, ingenious, and spellbinding as any of his previous period pieces. Its unlikely and appealing protagonist is Ray Carney, who, when the story begins in 1959, is expecting a second child with his wife, Elizabeth, while selling used furniture and appliances on Harlem’s storied, ever bustling 125th Street. Ray’s difficult childhood as a hoodlum’s son forced to all but raise himself makes him an exemplar of the self-made man to everybody but his upper-middle-class in-laws, aghast that their daughter and grandchildren live in a small apartment within earshot of the subway tracks. Try as he might, however, Ray can’t quite wrest free of his criminal roots. To help make ends meet as he struggles to grow his business, Ray takes covert trips downtown to sell lost or stolen jewelry, some of it coming through the dubious means of Ray’s ne’er-do-well cousin, Freddie, who’s been getting Ray into hot messes since they were kids. Freddie’s now involved in a scheme to rob the Hotel Theresa, the fabled “Waldorf of Harlem," and he wants his cousin to fence whatever he and his unsavory, volatile cohorts take in. This caper, which goes wrong in several perilous ways, is only the first in a series of strenuous tests of character and resources Ray endures from the back end of the 1950s to the Harlem riots of 1964. Throughout, readers will be captivated by a Dickensian array of colorful, idiosyncratic characters, from itchy-fingered gangsters to working-class women with a low threshold for male folly. What’s even more impressive is Whitehead’s densely layered, intricately woven rendering of New York City in the Kennedy era, a time filled with both the bright promise of greater economic opportunity and looming despair due to the growing heroin plague. It's a city in which, as one character observes, “everybody’s kicking back or kicking up. Unless you’re on top.” As one of Whitehead’s characters might say of their creator, When you’re hot, you’re hot. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#7  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
The Butler
 Danielle Steel
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781984821522 Raised by a devoted German mother in Buenos Aires, Joachim has left his twin brother behind and is training to be a butler in Paris, where he accepts a job to help Olivia White set up an apartment. Olivia, whose magazine has failed, is in the City of Light to reinvent herself and discovers that she and Joachim work well together. Then Joachim learns some dark family secrets: his grandfather died in prison, his rich father abandoned him, and his brother is now a dangerous criminal.
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  Book Jacket
#8  (Last Week: 11 • Weeks on List: 23)  
The Last Thing He Told Me
 Laura Dave
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9781501171345 When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him. Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic. Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. Shes also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that shes not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying Protect her and cant reach Owen by phone. Then theres the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shops CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isnt a suspect. Hannah doesnt know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannahs narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Baileys relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781501171345 Owen Michaels has disappeared, and all he left his wife Hannah is a note that says “protect her.” That, and a duffel bag containing over half a million dollars in cash. Could his disappearance have to do with his company’s recent financial-fraud scandal? Hannah seems to think so, especially when a US Marshal shows up on her doorstep. But why is a Texas-based US Marshal investigating a purported crime committed in Sausalito, California? This question convinces Hannah to go to Austin, along with her 16 year-old stepdaughter Bailey, to see if that city holds the answer to Owen’s disappearance, and maybe even Owen himself. What Hannah discovers is nothing she could have ever imagined, and she is soon forced to choose between finding her husband and keeping Bailey safe. Bestselling author Dave’s latest (after Hello, Sunshine, 2017) is a well-written story, and though readers may have trouble connecting with the characters, the plot is strong enough that the mystery will keep them hooked.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781501171345 Hannah's husband of two years, Owen, disappears amidst a work scandal; the only things he leaves her are a duffel bag full of money and a cryptic note that says "protect her," referring to his teenage daughter Bailey. When investigators reveal that Owen is not who he says he is, the mystery deepens, and Dave (Hello, Sunshine) heightens the stakes with the dynamic between Hannah and stepdaughter Bailey. Will Bailey come to trust her? Will Hannah be able to protect her as Owen asked? Dave focuses the action by filtering it through only Hannah's perspective, which keeps the plot tight where it could have been complicated, as Hannah chases leads to figure out who her husband used to be and meets people from his past. The first-person, present-tense point of view makes the pace quick; readers will be hooked from the start. Skillfully woven into the present mystery are flashbacks of scenes between Hannah and Owen, showing their tender relationship and Owen's behavior that hints at his past. VERDICT For readers who like a resilient, resourceful heroine and a compelling domestic suspense story.—Sonia Reppe, Stickney-Forest View P.L., IL
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781501171345 In Dave’s suspenseful latest (after Hello Sunshine), a Bay Area woman copes with her husband’s sudden disappearance. Owen Michaels, a coder for a prominent tech company, vanishes just before his boss is arrested for corruption, leaving his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, over half a million dollars in cash. Bailey and her stepmother, Hannah Hall, aren’t close, but they work together to uncover what made Owen flee, convinced he is innocent. Still, Hannah remains uncertain, and after she remembers how a man claimed to have recognized Owen from high school in Austin, Tex., despite Owen having said he’s from the East Coast, Hannah and Bailey travel there in hopes of triggering Bailey’s early childhood memories. Bailey does remember Texas, though her memories don’t track with what Owen had told both of them. Meanwhile, a U.S. Marshal who’s familiar with Owen’s past encourages Hannah to cooperate as Hannah and Bailey find themselves in danger. The first two-thirds are riveting, with mysteries unspooled at a steady pace and believable stepfamily angst, but unfortunately the final act slips into some loopy turns. The author’s fans, though, won’t have a hard time forgiving the flaws. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, WME. (May)
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  Book Jacket
 
#9  (Last Week: 9 • Weeks on List: 10)  
Billy Summers
Book Jacket   Stephen King
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781982173616 Ex-Army sniper turned hit man Billy Summers, the protagonist of this tripwire-taut thriller from MWA Grand Master King (Later), who views himself as “a garbageman with a gun,” decides his 18th assassination will be his last. But he rightly smells something fishy in the promised $2 million payout and runs rogue when things go south with his employers. Matters get complicated when a rape victim whose life he saves becomes his confidante and a participant in his plans to get even. King meticulously lays out the details of Billy’s trade, his Houdini-style escapes, and his act to look simpler than he is, but the novel’s main strength is a story within a story: as he preps for months in the small town “east of the Mississippi and just south of the Mason-Dixon Line” where the hit will happen, Billy, masquerading as a novelist, writes his lightly fictionalized autobiography, which grows more candid as it inches closer to current events and illustrates a line he remembers from a Tim O’Brien interview that fiction “was the way to the truth.” This is another outstanding outing from a writer who consistently delivers more than his readers expect. Agent: Chuck Verrill, Darhansoff & Verrill. (Aug.)
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The ever prolific King moves from his trademark horror into the realm of the hard-boiled noir thriller.Hes not a normal person. Hes a hired assassin, and if he doesnt think like who and what he is, hell never get clear. So writes King of his title character, whom the Las Vegas mob has brought in to rub out another hired gun whos been caught and is likely to talk. Billy, who goes by several names, is a complex man, a Marine veteran of the Iraq War whos seen friends blown to pieces; hes perhaps numbed by PTSD, but hes goal-oriented. Hes also a readerZolas novel Thrse Raquin figures as a MacGuffinwhich sets his employers wheels spinning: If a reader, then why not have him pretend hes a writer while hes waiting for the perfect moment to make his hit? It wouldnt be the first writer, real or imagined, King has pressed into service, and if Billy is no Jack Torrance, theres a lovely, subtle hint of the Overlook Hotel and its spectral occupants at the end of the yarn. Its no spoiler to say that whereas Billy carries out the hit with grim precision, things go squirrelly, complicated by his rescue of a young womanAliceafter shes been roofied and raped. Billys revenge on her behalf is less than sweet. As a memoir grows in his laptop, Billy becomes more confident as a writer: He doesnt know what anyone else might think, but Billy thinks its good, King writes of one days output. And good that its awful, because awful is sometimes the truth. He guesses he really is a writer now, because thats a writers thought. Billys art becomes life as Alice begins to take an increasingly important part in it, crisscrossing the country with him to carry out a final hit on an errant bad guy: He flopped back on the sofa, kicked once, and fell on the floor. His days of raping children and murdering sons and God knew what else were over. That story within a story has a nice twist, and Billys battered copy of Zolas book plays a part, too.Murder most foul and mayhem most entertaining. Another worthy page-turner from a protean master. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9781982173616 The ever prolific King moves from his trademark horror into the realm of the hard-boiled noir thriller. “He’s not a normal person. He’s a hired assassin, and if he doesn’t think like who and what he is, he’ll never get clear.” So writes King of his title character, whom the Las Vegas mob has brought in to rub out another hired gun who’s been caught and is likely to talk. Billy, who goes by several names, is a complex man, a Marine veteran of the Iraq War who’s seen friends blown to pieces; he’s perhaps numbed by PTSD, but he’s goal-oriented. He’s also a reader—Zola’s novel Thérèse Raquin figures as a MacGuffin—which sets his employer’s wheels spinning: If a reader, then why not have him pretend he’s a writer while he’s waiting for the perfect moment to make his hit? It wouldn’t be the first writer, real or imagined, King has pressed into service, and if Billy is no Jack Torrance, there’s a lovely, subtle hint of the Overlook Hotel and its spectral occupants at the end of the yarn. It’s no spoiler to say that whereas Billy carries out the hit with grim precision, things go squirrelly, complicated by his rescue of a young woman—Alice—after she’s been roofied and raped. Billy’s revenge on her behalf is less than sweet. As a memoir grows in his laptop, Billy becomes more confident as a writer: “He doesn’t know what anyone else might think, but Billy thinks it’s good,” King writes of one day’s output. “And good that it’s awful, because awful is sometimes the truth. He guesses he really is a writer now, because that’s a writer’s thought.” Billy’s art becomes life as Alice begins to take an increasingly important part in it, crisscrossing the country with him to carry out a final hit on an errant bad guy: “He flopped back on the sofa, kicked once, and fell on the floor. His days of raping children and murdering sons and God knew what else were over.” That story within a story has a nice twist, and Billy’s battered copy of Zola’s book plays a part, too. Murder most foul and mayhem most entertaining. Another worthy page-turner from a protean master. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781982173616 Ex-Army sniper turned hit man Billy Summers, the protagonist of this tripwire-taut thriller from MWA Grand Master King (Later), who views himself as “a garbageman with a gun,” decides his 18th assassination will be his last. But he rightly smells something fishy in the promised $2 million payout and runs rogue when things go south with his employers. Matters get complicated when a rape victim whose life he saves becomes his confidante and a participant in his plans to get even. King meticulously lays out the details of Billy’s trade, his Houdini-style escapes, and his act to look simpler than he is, but the novel’s main strength is a story within a story: as he preps for months in the small town “east of the Mississippi and just south of the Mason-Dixon Line” where the hit will happen, Billy, masquerading as a novelist, writes his lightly fictionalized autobiography, which grows more candid as it inches closer to current events and illustrates a line he remembers from a Tim O’Brien interview that fiction “was the way to the truth.” This is another outstanding outing from a writer who consistently delivers more than his readers expect. Agent: Chuck Verrill, Darhansoff & Verrill. (Aug.)
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The ever prolific King moves from his trademark horror into the realm of the hard-boiled noir thriller.Hes not a normal person. Hes a hired assassin, and if he doesnt think like who and what he is, hell never get clear. So writes King of his title character, whom the Las Vegas mob has brought in to rub out another hired gun whos been caught and is likely to talk. Billy, who goes by several names, is a complex man, a Marine veteran of the Iraq War whos seen friends blown to pieces; hes perhaps numbed by PTSD, but hes goal-oriented. Hes also a readerZolas novel Thrse Raquin figures as a MacGuffinwhich sets his employers wheels spinning: If a reader, then why not have him pretend hes a writer while hes waiting for the perfect moment to make his hit? It wouldnt be the first writer, real or imagined, King has pressed into service, and if Billy is no Jack Torrance, theres a lovely, subtle hint of the Overlook Hotel and its spectral occupants at the end of the yarn. Its no spoiler to say that whereas Billy carries out the hit with grim precision, things go squirrelly, complicated by his rescue of a young womanAliceafter shes been roofied and raped. Billys revenge on her behalf is less than sweet. As a memoir grows in his laptop, Billy becomes more confident as a writer: He doesnt know what anyone else might think, but Billy thinks its good, King writes of one days output. And good that its awful, because awful is sometimes the truth. He guesses he really is a writer now, because thats a writers thought. Billys art becomes life as Alice begins to take an increasingly important part in it, crisscrossing the country with him to carry out a final hit on an errant bad guy: He flopped back on the sofa, kicked once, and fell on the floor. His days of raping children and murdering sons and God knew what else were over. That story within a story has a nice twist, and Billys battered copy of Zolas book plays a part, too.Murder most foul and mayhem most entertaining. Another worthy page-turner from a protean master. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781982173616 One last job? Again? But, when even the fictional character embarking on that last job is aware he’s trapped in a trope, you know you’re in for something different. How different? King has multiple novels in play here—a thriller, at least two coming-of-age stories, and a knockout road novel—and he knits them together beautifully, never missing a stitch. Billy Summers is a former Marine sniper who, like Max Allan Collins’ Quarry, only hits bad guys; Billy wants out of the game, but he needs a stake. The job requires lead time, during which Billy poses as a writer and finds that he likes it; he’s good, too, as we find ourselves totally drawn into the tale of Billy’s dysfunctional family, his years in a juvenile detention home, and his experience during the Iraq War. That’s plenty, but there’s much more. Laying low after the hit (and after he realizes he’s been tabbed as a fall guy), Billy saves college student Alice, a rape victim, and the two hit the road, driving cross-country to Denver, where Billy gathers information from his former handler, a wonderfully realized, grandfatherly outlaw, and begins to track the bad guys behind the frame. More road trips follow, as Alice emerges as a scene-stealing heroine on her own coming-of-age journey. King has never been better than he is here at wrapping readers into a propulsive, many-tentacled narrative—complete with a perfectly orchestrated, moving ending.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781982173616 One last job? Again? But, when even the fictional character embarking on that last job is aware he’s trapped in a trope, you know you’re in for something different. How different? King has multiple novels in play here—a thriller, at least two coming-of-age stories, and a knockout road novel—and he knits them together beautifully, never missing a stitch. Billy Summers is a former Marine sniper who, like Max Allan Collins’ Quarry, only hits bad guys; Billy wants out of the game, but he needs a stake. The job requires lead time, during which Billy poses as a writer and finds that he likes it; he’s good, too, as we find ourselves totally drawn into the tale of Billy’s dysfunctional family, his years in a juvenile detention home, and his experience during the Iraq War. That’s plenty, but there’s much more. Laying low after the hit (and after he realizes he’s been tabbed as a fall guy), Billy saves college student Alice, a rape victim, and the two hit the road, driving cross-country to Denver, where Billy gathers information from his former handler, a wonderfully realized, grandfatherly outlaw, and begins to track the bad guys behind the frame. More road trips follow, as Alice emerges as a scene-stealing heroine on her own coming-of-age journey. King has never been better than he is here at wrapping readers into a propulsive, many-tentacled narrative—complete with a perfectly orchestrated, moving ending.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9781982173616 The ever prolific King moves from his trademark horror into the realm of the hard-boiled noir thriller. “He’s not a normal person. He’s a hired assassin, and if he doesn’t think like who and what he is, he’ll never get clear.” So writes King of his title character, whom the Las Vegas mob has brought in to rub out another hired gun who’s been caught and is likely to talk. Billy, who goes by several names, is a complex man, a Marine veteran of the Iraq War who’s seen friends blown to pieces; he’s perhaps numbed by PTSD, but he’s goal-oriented. He’s also a reader—Zola’s novel Thérèse Raquin figures as a MacGuffin—which sets his employer’s wheels spinning: If a reader, then why not have him pretend he’s a writer while he’s waiting for the perfect moment to make his hit? It wouldn’t be the first writer, real or imagined, King has pressed into service, and if Billy is no Jack Torrance, there’s a lovely, subtle hint of the Overlook Hotel and its spectral occupants at the end of the yarn. It’s no spoiler to say that whereas Billy carries out the hit with grim precision, things go squirrelly, complicated by his rescue of a young woman—Alice—after she’s been roofied and raped. Billy’s revenge on her behalf is less than sweet. As a memoir grows in his laptop, Billy becomes more confident as a writer: “He doesn’t know what anyone else might think, but Billy thinks it’s good,” King writes of one day’s output. “And good that it’s awful, because awful is sometimes the truth. He guesses he really is a writer now, because that’s a writer’s thought.” Billy’s art becomes life as Alice begins to take an increasingly important part in it, crisscrossing the country with him to carry out a final hit on an errant bad guy: “He flopped back on the sofa, kicked once, and fell on the floor. His days of raping children and murdering sons and God knew what else were over.” That story within a story has a nice twist, and Billy’s battered copy of Zola’s book plays a part, too. Murder most foul and mayhem most entertaining. Another worthy page-turner from a protean master. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#10  (Last Week: 6 • Weeks on List: 3)  
The Jailhouse Lawyer
Book Jacket   James Patterson and Nancy Allen
 


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#1  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
The Storyteller
 Dave Grohl
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780063076099 The Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman shares anecdotes from his (mostly) charmed life in rock ’n’ roll. Grohl’s memoir is thick with name-drops, but not for the sake of gossip or even revelatory detail. (Fans likely won’t learn anything about Kurt Cobain they didn’t already know, except perhaps his choice for cheap sustenance in the band’s pre-fame days, a canned-tuna-on-toast concoction dubbed “shit on a shingle.”) Rather, Grohl’s name-drops are of the “can you believe I get to do this for a living” variety: backing Tom Petty and Iggy Pop, meeting musical heroes from Little Richard to Joan Jett, singing “Blackbird” at the Oscars, performing at the White House, and filling arenas all over the world. As the book’s entertaining early pages reveal, Grohl was an unlikely candidate for global stardom. An accident-prone kid and unschooled drummer raised in a middle-class suburb of Washington, D.C., he caught the punk bug at a Naked Raygun show in Chicago, later dropping out of high school to join Scream. Though Scream was only moderately popular, Grohl thought he'd reached the mountaintop, so Nirvana’s massive fame, followed by Cobain’s suicide, was seriously disorienting. Still, the author is upbeat even when talking about lean or tense moments, like when his body finally pushed back against his five-pot-a-day coffee habit. Grohl is good company, but the gee-whiz tone as well as the clichés (hanging out with the members of metal band Pantera is “not for the faint of heart”) make the book feel like a missed opportunity. Grohl survived a massive band’s collapse and leads another hugely successful act in a genre that’s no longer dominant. Rather than exploring that, he’s largely content to celebrate his good fortune. Perhaps when he finally hangs it up, he will dig more deeply into his unique career. A high-spirited yet surface-level glimpse into the life of one of the planet’s last rock stars. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780063076099 Sixteen-time Grammy-winner Grohl cranks the story of his life to full volume in this exciting debut chronicling his rock ’n’ roll career. Growing up in the 1970s in the suburbs of Springfield, Va.—a “Wonder Bread existence”—Grohl followed the sound of drumming all the way to the stage, from jamming with friends in high school to playing in the D.C. hardcore punk band Scream, joining Kurt Cobain’s Nirvana in 1990, and eventually fronting his band, the Foo Fighters. Grohl’s uninterested in regaling readers with tales of backstage debauchery; instead, he candidly shares his reverence for the enduring power of music. As a teenager, he writes, it became his religion, “the rock stars my saints, and their songs my hymns.” By the time he turned 22, he was traveling the world with Nirvana. After the shock of Cobain’s 1994 suicide subsided, Grohl focused on the Foo Fighters and began touring internationally again, while raising three girls with his wife (“music and family intertwined”). Reflecting on his fame, Grohl writes, “I have never taken a single moment of it for granted.” Paired with his sparkling wit, this humility is what makes Grohl’s soulful story a cut above typical rock memoirs. There isn’t a dull moment here. Agent: Eve Atterman, WME. (Oct.)
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780063076099 Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Grohl joyfully recounts his life in this memoir. Growing up in Virginia, Grohl taught himself to play drums by ear. He left school to tour with the group Scream, then joined Nirvana and struggled with its monumental success. The lifelong nonconformist found himself adored by Nirvana's mainstream audiences while dealing the band's "awkward dysfunction." After Nirvana's breakup, Grohl started the Foo Fighters, then formed the supergroup Them Crooked Vultures, with Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme and Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones. In nostalgic, often humorous anecdotes, he recalls meeting the musicians who inspired him: jamming with Iggy Pop, drumming for Tom Petty on Saturday Night Live, sharing bedtime story duties with Joan Jett. Grohl seems most proud of his role as father, and his loving stories of parenthood are sprinkled throughout the book. VERDICT Grohl bares his soul and shares his passion in this must-read memoir, which will resonate with music lovers and his fans.—Lisa Henry, Kirkwood P.L., MO
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#2  (Last Week: 1 • Weeks on List: 3)  
Peril
 Bob Woodward and Robert Costa
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781982182915 In his third book about the Trump presidency (following Fear and Rage), Woodward joins forces with his Washington Post colleague Costa to offer a harrowing if familiar chronicle of the lead-up to and fallout from the 2020 election. The authors open with the dramatic revelation that Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, twice reassured his Chinese counterparts that President Trump wouldn't launch a surprise attack to improve his chances of staying in office, and that if Trump tried to do so, the Chinese would be warned. According to the authors, Milley also limited Trump's ability to launch nuclear weapons. Drawing on anonymous interviews with "more than 200 firsthand participants and witnesses," Woodward and Costa also document how Trump's remarks about the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville motivated Biden to run for president, and offer fly-on-the-wall accounts of Republican in-fighting over claims that the election was rigged, Vice President Mike Pence's waffling over whether he should overturn the electoral results, and negotiations over President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. Unfortunately, none of these reveals match the drama of those pertaining to Milley, and readers hoping for new insights into the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol will be disappointed. This well-sourced recap feels more rote than revelatory. (Sept.)
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#3  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
Taste
Book Jacket   Stanley Tucci
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781982168018 Since he's the winner of two Golden Globes and two Emmys, plus claimant to Academy Award and Tony nominations, you would think Tucci would tell his life through film. But no, he's chosen food—not so surprising as he's the author of two cookbooks and learned his love of eating early from his Italian American family. With a 150,000-copy first printing.
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#4  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
I'll Take Your Questions Now
Book Jacket   Stephanie Grisham
 
#5  (Last Week: 2 • Weeks on List: 3)  
Vanderbilt
 Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780062964618 The TV anchor and scion of the dynasty examines his family’s checkered past. There’s an old saying to the effect that the first generation makes the money, the second expands the fortune, and the third squanders it. So it was with the Vanderbilts, with Cooper’s mother, Gloria, one of the descendants for whom the fabulous fortune of 19th-century patriarch Cornelius was mostly a distant memory. In a country devoted to anti-royalist principles, he became the nearest thing there was to nobility only a few years after the Revolution. However, notes Cooper, writing with historical novelist Howe, “their empire would last for less than a hundred years before collapsing under its own weight, destroying itself with its own pathology.” Some of that pathology was the usual sort: overspending on lavish material possessions; showering money on bad investments and mistresses; and building mighty monuments to self, such as a splendid mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, “nearly three times as big as the White House,” that turned out to be a money sink. Cornelius Vanderbilt II had spent the modern equivalent of $200 million to build it in 1895, and less than a century later his descendants would be forced to sell it for a little more than 1% of that figure. Cooper turns up some family secrets, especially their connections to the Confederacy (which explains why there’s a Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee), and he explodes the long-held notion that Cornelius Vanderbilt was a wholly self-made man (he borrowed money from his mother to buy his first boat). Suicides, affairs, bad business deals, fierce rivalries, and occasionally an outburst of good sense (as when Billy Vanderbilt doubled his inheritance in just eight years, amassing $230 million) mark these pages along with moments of tragedy, such as the loss of one ancestor in the sinking of the Lusitania. A sturdy family history that also serves as a pointed lesson in how to lose a fortune. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The TV anchor and scion of the dynasty examines his familys checkered past.Theres an old saying to the effect that the first generation makes the money, the second expands the fortune, and the third squanders it. So it was with the Vanderbilts, with Coopers mother, Gloria, one of the descendants for whom the fabulous fortune of 19th-century patriarch Cornelius was mostly a distant memory. In a country devoted to anti-royalist principles, he became the nearest thing there was to nobility only a few years after the Revolution. However, notes Cooper, writing with historical novelist Howe, their empire would last for less than a hundred years before collapsing under its own weight, destroying itself with its own pathology. Some of that pathology was the usual sort: overspending on lavish material possessions; showering money on bad investments and mistresses; and building mighty monuments to self, such as a splendid mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, nearly three times as big as the White House, that turned out to be a money sink. Cornelius Vanderbilt II had spent the modern equivalent of $200 million to build it in 1895, and less than a century later his descendants would be forced to sell it for a little more than 1% of that figure. Cooper turns up some family secrets, especially their connections to the Confederacy (which explains why theres a Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee), and he explodes the long-held notion that Cornelius Vanderbilt was a wholly self-made man (he borrowed money from his mother to buy his first boat). Suicides, affairs, bad business deals, fierce rivalries, and occasionally an outburst of good sense (as when Billy Vanderbilt doubled his inheritance in just eight years, amassing $230 million) mark these pages along with moments of tragedy, such as the loss of one ancestor in the sinking of the Lusitania.A sturdy family history that also serves as a pointed lesson in how to lose a fortune. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780062964618 ldquo;This is the story of the greatest American fortune ever squandered,” a dramatic tale expertly told of rapacious ambition, decadent excess, and covert and overt tyranny and trauma. Distinguished CNN anchor Cooper identified with the down-to-earth Mississippian heritage of his father, Wyatt Cooper, only exploring his Vanderbilt side as he and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, collaborated on The Rainbow Comes and Goes (2016). Here he and historian and novelist Howe (The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs, 2019) vividly portray key figures, beginning with the first Dutch descendant on Staten Island and the gritty ascent of Cornelius Vanderbilt, who amassed the dynasty's gargantuan wealth, institutionalized his wife when he was weary of her, and drove his namesake son to suicide. With resplendent detail, the authors capture the gasp-eliciting extravagance of the Vanderbilt Gilded Age mansions and lifestyles, which rarely made them happy. As most people struggled to survive, New York’s elite Four Hundred goaded “brilliant, witty, cunning, and utterly ruthless” socialite and future suffragist Alva Vanderbilt, who married, then daringly divorced Cornelius' grandson and heir, to maniacal heights of social competitiveness. The authors track the pitfalls of twentieth-century celebrity as the Vanderbilts coped with a dwindling fortune, until resilient Gloria became the last to truly experience “a Vanderbilt life.” With its intrinsic empathy and in-depth profiles of women, this is a distinctly intimate, insightful, and engrossing chronicle of an archetypal, self-consuming American dynasty.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Cooper's magnetism, Howe's fan base, and an irresistible subject add up to a nonfiction blockbuster.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780062964618 CNN anchor Cooper (The Rainbow Comes and Goes) and novelist Howe (The Daughters of Temperance Hobbes) tell the story of “the greatest American fortune ever squandered” in this juicy portrait of Cooper’s forebears, the Vanderbilts. Tracing the family’s American origins to a Dutch indentured servant who arrived in New Amsterdam (present-day New York City) in 1650, the authors showcase the Vanderbilts as a study in “our country’s mythos,” the belief that anyone can become wealthy if “they have enough gumption, have enough grit, or ruthlessness.” In the 19th century, 18-year-old Cornelius Vanderbilt made money ferrying supplies to the British military during the war of 1812, and went on to build railroads, leaving behind a $100 million inheritance to his son William, who was the only Vanderbilt to ever add to the family fortune. William’s daughter-in-law, Alva, transformed from a society doyenne to a key leader of the women’s suffrage movement, while her son, Harold, became a champion yachtsman. In the book’s most moving section, Cooper recounts his mother Gloria’s traumatic childhood, which involved a “sort-of-kidnapping” and a drawn-out custody battle, and her out-of-control spending and dysfunctional relationships as an adult. Marked by meticulous research and deep emotional insight, this is a memorable chronicle of American royalty. (Sept.)
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#6  (Last Week: 3 • Weeks on List: 13)  
American Marxism
 Mark R. Levin
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#7  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
The Dying Citizen
Book Jacket   Victor Davis Hanson
#8  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
A Carnival Of Snackery
Book Jacket   David Sedaris
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316558792 Sedaris's second collection of diary entries are more cosmopolitan and assured than his first collection, Theft by Finding, which covered 1977–2002. In spite of Sedaris's new financial security and his homes in Europe and the United States, the core of his personality and insecurity—which draws so many to his writing—remains. Sedaris is curious about the world, particularly its tawdry or ugly sides, and constantly aware of his role and complicity in that ugliness. His style of engagement means finding humor in nearly everything, often in ways that may elicit discomfort, though he is serious when it comes to tragedies such as mass shootings. For this reason, some will see his book as unsalvageable. Yet selected and edited as it is, his work is about radical vulnerability and reflects a universal experience of contending with one's internal life. "Who am I, how did I get to be this way, and what is wrong with me?" is a question Sedaris asks, and one worth asking. VERDICT Entertaining reading in itself, with references to some of the books he published in this era; a must-read for Sedaris's many fans.—Margaret Heller, Loyola Univ. Chicago Libs.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780316558792 Surely Sedaris has shared enough of his life in his audaciously funny and poignant essays, showcased in his first selected collection, The Best of Me (2020). Not so! His judiciously edited diaries, beginning with Theft by Finding: Diaries, 1977–2002 (2017) and continuing here, cast more light on his omnivorous curiosity, habit of vigilant observation, acid wit, and impishness. Mesmerizing and jolting, Sedaris recounts his seemingly perpetual world tour of literary performances with gleanings from his voracious eavesdropping and nervy chats with fellow passengers, drivers, and restaurant and hotel staff. Sedaris claims, “I just can’t for the life of me figure out what to say to people,” the instigation for the outrageously cheeky questions he asks fans who wait in hours-long lines to talk with him. Sedaris records his passions for collecting “rudeness stories” and picking up litter in his West Sussex environs, and how the latter effort inspires his community to dedicate a garbage truck to him. Sedaris’ shrewdly sketched world travelogue, hilarious anecdotes, and frank reflections on loved ones, and life's myriad absurdities and cruelties major and minor, make for a delectably sardonic, rueful, and provocative chronicle.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Sedaris' books are like a beloved, long-running sitcom; fans don't want to miss a word.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780316558792 The second volume of diaries by Sedaris (after Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002), who navigates the early 21st century wealthier but still bemused. The flashpoints of the modern era—the Iraq War, Ferguson, Trump, Covid-19—pop up throughout these entries, but mainly so the author can sail past them with his usual irreverence. For example: “When the pandemic hit, my first thought wasn’t Oh, those poor dying people but What about my airline status?” His bottomless capacity to make everything about him doesn’t read as selfishness or ignorance, though; as with all good comics, the particulars of his life are stand-ins for everybody’s foibles and frustrations. Traveling the world for readings, Sedaris takes note of every culture’s peculiarities, from spitting on the street in Tokyo to offensive insults to language quirks—e.g., Tagalog is like “English on quaaludes.” Sedaris treats his own life as a kind of foreign country, too. After moving from his longtime home in France to England, he began his hobby of picking up litter (documented in Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls), and the reactions of his neighbors, not to mention the trash itself, provide comic fodder. Family matters were trickier during this period: His troubled sister, Tiffany, killed herself, and his elderly but resilient father still treated him like a failure. Because Sedaris traveled all over the world during this stretch, the tone and form of the diaries shift; he’s sometimes glib, sometimes contemplative, sometimes content just to catalog funny stuff he overhears. So for better or worse, he’s a humorist who’ll go anywhere. This book contains one of the best jokes about the Crucifixion you’re likely to hear, along with a few subpar quips: “To honor the death of Marcel Marceau I observed a minute of silence." A rich trove for hardcore Sedaris fans, though no more personally revealing than his well-shaped essays. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The second volume of diaries by Sedaris (after Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002), who navigates the early 21st century wealthier but still bemused. The flashpoints of the modern erathe Iraq War, Ferguson, Trump, Covid-19pop up throughout these entries, but mainly so the author can sail past them with his usual irreverence. For example: When the pandemic hit, my first thought wasnt Oh, those poor dying peoplebut What about my airline status? His bottomless capacity to make everything about him doesnt read as selfishness or ignorance, though; as with all good comics, the particulars of his life are stand-ins for everybodys foibles and frustrations. Traveling the world for readings, Sedaris takes note of every cultures peculiarities, from spitting on the street in Tokyo to offensive insults to language quirkse.g., Tagalog is like English on quaaludes. Sedaris treats his own life as a kind of foreign country, too. After moving from his longtime home in France to England, he began his hobby of picking up litter (documented in Lets Explore Diabetes With Owls), and the reactions of his neighbors, not to mention the trash itself, provide comic fodder. Family matters were trickier during this period: His troubled sister, Tiffany, killed herself, and his elderly but resilient father still treated him like a failure. Because Sedaris traveled all over the world during this stretch, the tone and form of the diaries shift; hes sometimes glib, sometimes contemplative, sometimes content just to catalog funny stuff he overhears. So for better or worse, hes a humorist wholl go anywhere. This book contains one of the best jokes about the Crucifixion youre likely to hear, along with a few subpar quips: To honor the death of Marcel Marceau I observed a minute of silence." A rich trove for hardcore Sedaris fans, though no more personally revealing than his well-shaped essays. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780316558792 Surely Sedaris has shared enough of his life in his audaciously funny and poignant essays, showcased in his first selected collection, The Best of Me (2020). Not so! His judiciously edited diaries, beginning with Theft by Finding: Diaries, 1977–2002 (2017) and continuing here, cast more light on his omnivorous curiosity, habit of vigilant observation, acid wit, and impishness. Mesmerizing and jolting, Sedaris recounts his seemingly perpetual world tour of literary performances with gleanings from his voracious eavesdropping and nervy chats with fellow passengers, drivers, and restaurant and hotel staff. Sedaris claims, “I just can’t for the life of me figure out what to say to people,” the instigation for the outrageously cheeky questions he asks fans who wait in hours-long lines to talk with him. Sedaris records his passions for collecting “rudeness stories” and picking up litter in his West Sussex environs, and how the latter effort inspires his community to dedicate a garbage truck to him. Sedaris’ shrewdly sketched world travelogue, hilarious anecdotes, and frank reflections on loved ones, and life's myriad absurdities and cruelties major and minor, make for a delectably sardonic, rueful, and provocative chronicle.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Sedaris' books are like a beloved, long-running sitcom; fans don't want to miss a word.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780316558792 The celebrated humorist returns with more offhand observations on the weird and tiresome in these sparkling diary excerpts. Sedaris (Me Talk Pretty One Day) riffs on life with his partner Hugh Hamrick as they brave awkward dinner parties; his obsession with picking up trash; the personal inconvenience of societal upheavals (“I was thinking of my beloved shops,” he frets during a 2020 looting outbreak—“What’ll happen if there’s nothing left for me to buy!”); and the colorful, quotable eccentrics who materialize everywhere he goes. (“On my way for a coffee this morning, I passed a man with an umbrella on his head... ‘The devil will fool you,’ he told me.”) The proceedings are saturated with Sedaris’s trademark irony, wherein the search for energizing squalor ends only in the purgatory of the banal. “I’d like to see angry orphans and drunk people fighting,” he notes at the start of a Bucharest sojourn, but at its conclusion he’s trapped on an airliner as “the woman in front of me shoved her seat all the way back and the woman next to her put on some horrible melon-scented hand cream. I couldn’t have been any more miserable.” They may not stick to your ribs, but Sedaris’s memoiristic nuggets are always tasty. Agent: Christina Concepcion, Don Congdon Assoc. (Oct.)
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#9  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
There Is Nothing For You Here
 Fiona Hill
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781984878533 Features editor and a tech reporter at Bloomberg Businessweek, Chafkin tells the story of The Contrarian, that is, billionaire venture capitalist and entrepreneur Peter Thiel, who has significantly influenced the course of Silicon Valley. Columbia history/journalism professor Cobb and New Yorker editor Remnick illuminate The Matter of Black Lives in pieces collected from the magazine, starting with Rebecca West's account of a lynching trial and James Baldwin's "Letter from a Region in My Mind" and moving on to embrace works by Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Zadie Smith, Hilton Als, Jamaica Kincaid, and Henry Louis Gates Jr., among others (100,000-copy first printing). Having left behind her hometown in England's declining coal-mining region when her father declared There's Nothing for You Here, Brookings senior fellow Hill—now an American citizen and a former member of the National Security Council—draws on her extensive national intelligence work in Russia to warn that America's rocky situation today mirrors circumstances that led to Russia's socioeconomic decline (100,000-copy first printing). Rejecting the view that humans are irredeemably off-the-wall in their thinking (we have elucidated the laws of nature, for instance), two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Pinker argues in Rationality that we don't avail ourselves of logic in many everyday situations because we don't really need to. But we can learn how to think more logically, even as we recognize that some rational acts (he cites self-interest) can lead to damaging irrationality for society. Oxford professor Srinivasan's The Right to Sex talks about talking about sex in the #MeToo era, stating, for instance, that we need to deepen the prevailing concept of consent into something more nuanced (50,000-copy first printing). Award-winning journalist Streep's Brothers on Three revisit the players, families, and community that celebrated when the Arlee Warriors brought home the high school basketball state championship title to the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana (75,000-copy first printing).
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780358574316 Former National Security Council official Hill (Mr. Putin) blends memoir and policy analysis in this lucid account. She traces her journey from northern England, where her father and grandfather were coal miners, to a college exchange program in Moscow, where she worked as a translator for NBC News during the 1988 summit between Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan, and a Harvard PhD. She also discusses serving in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations as an adviser on Russian affairs, and her decision to testify against President Trump over his pressure campaign on Ukraine. But the heart of the book is Hill’s argument that declining opportunity in the U.S. mirrors the socioeconomic situations in England and Russia, and is at the heart of political turmoil in all three countries. She examines personal mobility and wage inequality through the lenses of place, class, race, and gender, and makes a forceful argument for investing in education to lower the barriers to opportunity. She also refutes Trump’s “personalized populist politics” and warns that the U.S. will experience more “ruinous populist and sectarian politics” until people “see concrete, personally measurable examples of positive change within their own immediate physical communities.” Readers will come for the insider details about Trump, but stay for the keen analysis. (Oct.)
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780358574316 This book by foreign policy expert Hill, combining memoir and political science, accounts for her 30-year career as a specialist in U.S.-Russia relations, provides insights on political divisions in the United States, and argues that declining economic opportunity can spark authoritarianism. Hill made headlines in 2019 when she testified before Congress during the first Trump impeachment hearing, as a former National Security Council official in the Trump administration. Here she relates the personal challenges she overcame to reach that position. Hill grew up in the economically distressed North East region of England, after the collapse of coal mining industries. She left the region to study internationally, including a year spent in the Soviet Union as its empire was collapsing. In 1989, Hill received a scholarship to the Harvard Kennedy School where she studied economic inequality in the U.S., UK, and Russia. With her knowledge of post-Soviet Russia, Hill makes a convincing case that populism can slide into authoritarianism if citizens and leadership are not vigilant and demonstrates similar political outcomes throughout the world. VERDICT Readers interested in Hill's life and in international relations will be well informed by this book; her reporting of behind-the-scenes activity in the Trump White House will also fascinate.—Jill Ortner, SUNY Buffalo Libs.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780358574316 A renowned expert on modern Russia recounts her struggles overcoming economic and social barriers growing up in northern England and draws attention to the looming issues of inequality she sees in the U.S. Hill had been a foreign affairs adviser for many years before serving as an official for the U.S. National Security Council under Donald Trump, yet it was through her engagingly blunt witness testimony during Trump’s first impeachment trial that she gained national attention. Her personal story, in particular, attracted the public’s interest and curiosity. In this ambitious, immensely compelling memoir, Hill interweaves her interesting life story with events and issues she has continued to observe during her career. “My life experiences, long before I ended up in the Trump White House, had opened my eyes to the dangerous consequences of economic disruption and social dislocation,” she writes. “In the United Kingdom, my family experienced the overwhelming sense of economic precariousness and political disenfranchisement that also beset millions of people in the U.S. over the generations stretching from the 1960s to 2020.” The author persuasively argues that America may be heading in a similar direction to Russia unless we address the crucial challenges facing much of the country, specifically regarding education, health care, and job opportunities. Drawing insightful parallels between Trump and Putin, she unpacks how the threat of populism can quickly undermine democracy: “If we fail to fix our ailing society by addressing them and providing opportunity for all, another American president, just like Vladimir Putin, might decide to stay in power indefinitely.” Currently a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Hill also recounts her personal challenges as a woman working in the highest levels of government, struggles that all women readers will recognize, regardless of their workplace. A shrewd, absorbing memoir that casts a sharp eye on America's future while offering feasible solutions for change. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#10  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
A Confederacy Of Dumptys
 John Lithgow
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